Flower Reserves

Darling Renosterveld Reserve
This new municipal reserve is situated at the top of the village behind the school. Please park in the street close to the gate. As you enter you will see a diagonal path leading right to the top of the reserve. A pleasant walk to the top and back will take about 15 minutes. For a more thorough look at what the reserve has to offer, branch off to the left onto the circular walk that wends its way around the whole reserve. You’ll need fairly stout walking shoes for this. It may also be a good idea to take along the West Coast Wild Flower Guide in order to identify the different plant species. Bird lovers may want to bring along a pair of binoculars and bird guide. A large variety of renosterbos species may be seen in this reserve. Larger bushes of wild olive (Olea spp), Rhus species, Putterlickia pyracantha, etc. are dotted all over. In between may be seen typical smaller shrubs such as renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis), kapokbos (Eriocephalus africanus) and various Euphorbiaceae. In season (mid August to as late as November) there are many smaller plants bearing beautiful flowers. Oxalis species, Darling froetang (Romulea Eximea), moederkappie (Pterygodium catholicum), small bonnets (Sparaxis parviflora), various Morea species, the beautiful pink agretjie (Ixia scillaris), and various sucullent vygies (Mesembryanthemaceae) can be seen. The many Lachenalia species are especially attractive here. Look out for reptiles like the local red-bellied tortoise (Chersina angulata) and a variety of lizard species. Apart from the odd guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), francolin and spurwing goose (Plectropterus gambensis) there are also many smaller bird species like the Karoo prinea (Prinea maculosa), the entertaining clapper lark (Mirafra apiata) and various brilliant sunbirds (Liparia species). Various fascinating wasps, bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are also active during this season. You may even be so lucky as to see a dung beetle at work.

Groenekloof Renosterveld Reserve
This reserve is situated behind the Darling Cemetery and may be accessed from the parking area in front of the SPCA (Old Abbatoir buildings adjacent to cemetery). Take the rough footpath to the top end of the reserve, below the koppie. From there one has a wonderful view over the village as well as towards the North West across the Swartland in the direction of Piketberg. One can then meander down towards the cemetery corner and back again to the gate. This will take anything from half an hour to an hour and a half depending on your speed. Although the reserve differs only from the Darling Renosterveld Reserve in its topography, bearing fewer large shrubs and bushes, it is especially good for the viewing of geophytes. Kelkiewyn (geissorhiza radians), Babiana species, kaneeltjie pelargonium (Pelargonium triste), romulea species, as well as various daisies (Asteraceae) are a sure bet. In the marshier areas there are clumps of arums (Zantedescia), sorrel ( Rumex) and other interesting marsh plants.

Waylands Flower Reserve
The 80 ha flower reserve at Waylands is a typical representative of the Lowland Fynbos biome. Estimated to contain approximately 300 species of flowering plants, it has always been managed to maintain and promote the wild flowers. The veld was made into a flower reserve in about 1922 when Frederick Duckitt, one of the co-founders of the Darling Wild Flower show, allowed the public to stop to view the spring flower bloom. His son, Wilferd Duckitt, built the road that allows the public to drive through the reserve, in 1952. Apart from this change, the veld has been managed in the same basic manner for at least the last 140 years.

The very simple management strategy consists of allowing cattle and sheep to graze in the veld throughout summer. The animals are then removed late in autumn and the flowers are allowed to grow undisturbed. Animals are then only allowed to graze the veld once the spring flowers have died off and have set seed at the beginning of summer. Fire also forms an integral part of the veld management strategy. The veld is burned once the bush gets overgrown and unproductive, but not in intervals of less then four years, and usually not longer than seven years. The timing of the intervals is dependent on the climatic conditions as well as the type of plants that grow in the veld. Certain plants need to be regularly burned to ensure survival, whilst others are not happy to be burned regularly. The burning strategy is therefore adjusted on an annual basis to accommodate the climatic conditions, the veld type and the specific plants. Burning is only done late in autumn, if possible just before rain, with a light breeze which will allow the fire to move fast enough so as not to destroy all the seed, but at the same time to be hot enough to burn all the dead and unproductive material.

Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve
This renosterveld wildflower reserve was originally a part of the farm ‘Slangkop’, owned by the Versfeld family of Darling. The Versfeld’s came to Darling in the 1830’s from Klaasenbosch, Constantia. In 1958 the owner, Mr Marthinus Versfeld (known to all as Oom Tienie) donated this 20ha piece of his farm to the National Botanical Institute due to its conservation importance. The reserve has never been ploughed but is sometimes used for grazing by the Slangkop cattle.

Marthinus Versfeld was born in 1893 and died in 1979. The gravestone for him and his wife Beatrice (Baby), can be seen in the reserve. Oom Tienie was also a good sportsman and represented the Western Province rugby team in the 1921 Currie Cup Competition. During World War I he had the title of Lieutenant and became a Major during Word War II.

The Versfeld family have left a legacy of love for nature. With the formation of the Darling Wildflower Association Oom Tienie’s sister, Muriel, was one of the founding committee members and the first convener of the Darling Wildflower show in 1917.

Best time for flowers: The reserve is open throughout the year, but flower viewing is at its best from August to October. Join Oom Tienie in his love for wildflowers and enjoy a walk around the reserve.

 

Other Wild Flower Reserves and Conservancies

On the R307 between Mamre and Darling

Mamre Nature Garden

Groote Post Nature Trail (turn off on to Darling Hills Road and follow signs to Groote Post Wine Estate) Tel: 022 492 2825

Contreberg (seasonal)

Waylands (seasonal)

Oudepost (seasonal)

Klein Oudepost (seasonal)

On the road between Darling and Yzerfontein

Tienie Versfeld Reserve (best viewing August to October)

Bokbaai Vygie Route (Yzerfontein)

On the R27

Koeberg Nature Reserve

Rondeberg Private Reserve (entrance fee) Tel: 022 492 3099

West Coast National Park (entrance fee)

 

Good Rains and
Excellent Weather

We have had an Excellent start to the flower season as a result of the hot summer months and the early start to the winter with rain falling regularly through the months of April through to July. The cold we experienced during the months of June and July has also been good for the bulbs. Should the intermittent rain and sunshine continue through to the show in September we are going to have ONE OF THE BEST YEARS in a long time. So make a point and come out to our beautiful Village and experience something special this year.

As you can see in the photos on a private farm the flowers are starting to show. It seems that with this year’s weather it is going to be an exceptional year for the wonderfully scented Blue Pypie. The yellow and white daisies are also out in abundance.

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